Everything You Need to Know

When potential employers ask you to take a Microsoft Excel assessment test, they are trying to determine whether or not you are the best candidate for the position. This test allows you to put your best foot forward, without worrying about impressing an interviewer. With a little bit of practice and training, you can prove you have the basic, intermediate, or advanced skill set that is needed to be successful in the position. 

The Excel Assessment test is objective, and shows hiring managers that you are capable of helping their company. Start by understanding what they require, so you can sharpen your Excel skills before the test.

You need to demonstrate your ability in formatting spreadsheets, writing formulas, or manipulating data with pivot tables, to show you are a better choice than lesser-skilled job applicants. 


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Larger companies often use a test developed by one of the industry’s leading skills assessment testers, while smaller companies frequently create their own test. This non-standardized test means candidates are best off practicing on assessment tests that offer a wide range of questions and topics. Tests are typically given in three levels, based on the job requirements. 

Test Features

Your assessment tests can be administered either before or after an interview as a way to screen potential employees for a position. Tests can be administered in the office either immediately before or after an interview, or from your home, using either your version of Excel or an in-app test version.

It’s important to find out which version of Excel you will be tested on, as some features are different in the earlier versions of Excel. iPrep’s practice tests will prepare you for MS Excel 2013, 2016, or 2019/Office 365.

Tests are typically administered in one of two ways:

  • Excel interactive spreadsheet
  • Multiple choice

Multiple Choice

In multiple choice versions of the test, you will be asked questions and directed to choose the best response. These questions will cover the areas of Excel that you are expected to know in the role and will look something like this:

Source: teststeststests.com

Excel Interactive Spreadsheet

When faced with an interactive spreadsheet test, you will be given an actual spreadsheet and asked to complete specific tasks. For example, in the question below you are being asked to add a row into an actual Excel file.

Questions can be single-task questions, where you are asked to do one thing, or multi-tasked. In a multi-tasked question, you might be asked to do the following in the Excel pictured below:

  1. Add a tape measure into the new row
  2. Add in the following sales figures: January – $27, February -$35, March – $11
  3. Add in a formula to calculate the average monthly sales figures for tape measures
  4. Add in a formula to calculate the total sales for the first quarter
Source: iPrep

Proficiency skills

Excel is a powerful program that is capable of doing any number of things. However, the role you are applying for probably won’t require you to know everything about Excel. Your test should only ask questions that are relevant to the position you are applying to. 

That being said, most Excel roles are divided into three levels: 

  • Excel Beginner Test – for administrative or clerical positions
  • Excel Intermediate Test – roles that require calculations 
  • Excel Advanced Test – roles that require data analysis and working with data

Technical Facts

The format of each test differs greatly depending on the company administering the test. Some will ask you to take the test at home, while others proctor the exam in the office.

There are three generally accepted proficiency levels in Excel. Here are the topics you can expect for each of these levels:

Excel
Beginner Test
Excel
Intermediate Test
Excel
Advanced Test
This skill set is needed by people in administrative and clerical positions. Therefore, the tasks expected of employees in these roles are of a formatting nature. You can expect the following types of tasks to be tested:This skill set is needed by people working with the information contained in the spreadsheets. These tasks require a deeper knowledge of Excel:This skill set is used by people who need to analyze the data contained within the spreadsheet. These tasks require a strong knowledge of Excel:
Copy/pasteUse AutosumFull PivotTable use
Add/remove column or rowSort data through auto-filteringEnter calculations using average functions
Fill cell range with series of labelsCreate conditional formatting rulesSort table using multiple fields
Move a chart in a worksheetChange chart typesAdd new fields to table
Navigate between worksheetsCreate PivotTables Use goal seek
Open  a workbookFilter PivotTable dataData validation
Open/close ExcelFreeze top rowsRecord macros
Apply bold or italics formatting to cellsAdd commentsApply styles to a chart
Change cell colors/fontsApply number formatting to cellsLock cells
Preview and print workbooksMerge cells

If you are applying for a position at a large company, they may use a commercially developed standardized test. These tests typically take 15-45 minutes to complete and contain between 10-35 questions.

Results Scale and Interpretations

Companies that create and score their own tests will compare your results with that of other candidates they have interviewed, as well as requirements for the job. It’s important to do as well as possible on the Excel assessment, as it demonstrates your ability to contribute to the company immediately. Candidates with lower scores require training, which takes time and costs money, so doing well on the test will help you stand out among other job seekers.

Larger companies which use assessment tests receive a report detailing the following:

  • Your score
  • Your percentile
  • Your score in different sections

Your potential employer could receive a report that looks like this, which shows how well you did, compared to other test takers. 

The report will also break down your test performance by levels. While an overall score may not be that impressive, the employer can see if a candidate has strong basic skills, which may be enough for the role.

Additionally, the report includes scores by topics. This provides further insight to the hiring manager as to the areas where you have strong skills, and those areas which might require additional training. 

This Score Report, which comes from the Kenexa Prove It Power User test, includes the raw score, percent correct, percentile ranking, and global average.

Source: Kenexa Prove It

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Excel Assessment Test FAQs

What is an Excel assessment test?

Many employers require their potential employees to take an Excel assessment test. This test lets the hiring manager know how well the candidate knows Excel, and whether or not they are capable of completing the tasks in Excel that their role would require. 
Some companies use multiple choice tests, while others provide the candidate with an interactive Excel sheet and ask the job candidate to perform different tasks.

What is included in Excel tests for interviews?

Excel tests can cover a number of topics, depending on the role. For someone looking at an administrative or clerical position, the test would challenge the candidate with basic activities, such as formatting and file management. Sales or marketing roles would require a candidate to write formulas and use pivot tables to analyze data.

What are the most common question topics on Excel tests?

While different roles have different requirements, here are the five most common topics that appear in Excel assessment tests:

• Opening and saving files
• Sorting data based on different types of criteria
• Adding and removing rows or columns
• Autofilling cells with data 
• Sum/Average functions and formulas

How to prepare for Excel assessment tests?

Before taking an Excel assessment test, ask about the test format and version of Excel that you will be tested on. Once you have that information, you can work with online practice tests, like those offered by iPrep, to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that are asked on these tests. This will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and the tips and tricks they offer will help you improve on the areas where you did poorly.

What Excel skills are employers looking for?

Employers want to know that you can handle the Excel tasks that you will come across in your job. This generally means that they want someone who can easily navigate Excel’s ribbon and taskbar, format worksheets, use functions, and manipulate data.

What types of roles typically require an Excel assessment?

Excel is used for a number of different functions. A Capital One 2017 report found that 82% of middle skill jobs require digital skills, including spreadsheets. However, it is an especially important tool in the following roles:

• Accountants
• Administrative assistants and clerical workers
• Business analysts
• Marketing and sales managers
• Loan officers
• Project managers
• Teachers

Job listings that mention Excel skills as a requirement are very likely to require candidates to take an Excel assessment test.


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Administration

  • Test Location: The Excel Assessment test is administrated by the hiring company, typically in their office.
  • Test Schedule: The test generally takes place following at least an initial interview. 
  • Test Format: Multiple choice or computerized simulation. 
  • Test Materials: Computer. Additional materials determined by each employer. 
  • Cost: None
  • Retake Policy: Determined by each employer.

Test Providers

While most small businesses create their own Excel assessment, larger corporations tend to use assessments from one of these leading test developers.

IBM Talent Assessments (formerly Kenexa Prove lt) – There are 3 versions of this test: Normal User, Power User, and Whole Test. The test is an interactive test, where users are presented with actual spreadsheets and challenged to complete different tasks. The test is administered online, and untimed, although the speed in which you complete tasks are measured and influence your final score. The Normal User test has 30 questions, the Power User test has 25 questions, and the Whole Test has 55 questions.

January 2020 update: IBM announced that the Kenexa Prove It Excel assessments will be gradually shifted from the IBM Talent Assessments platform to SHL, a global leader in assessment tests.

Isograd – A 25-questions assessment that takes about 30 minutes to complete. It is taken online and provides immediate skills report to the test administrator.

Indeed – This multiple choice test is available for beginning, intermediate, and advanced users.

eSkill – These tests are highly configurable by the test administer, allowing them to customize the number of questions, level of questions, and time limit.

EmployTest – This interactive Excel spreadsheet assessment asks about 35 questions covering formatting, functions, charts and formulas. Results are immediately emailed to test administer.

Interview Mocha – This ten-question assessment test takes 20 minutes to complete. Test administrators can customize the level of difficulty, as well as introduce their own questions into the test. 


Disclaimer – All the information and prep materials on iPrep are genuine and were created for tutoring purposes. iPrep is not affiliated with IBM, Isograd, Indeed, eSkill EmployTest, Interview Mocha or other Excel assessment test developers.

Get a taste of the Excel Assessment Test by practicing with these sample questions: